Tuesday, January 16, 2007

BERNARD SZAJNER- ZED Visions Of Dune (1979)

Bernard Szajner could be considered France's answer to (pre-ambient) Brian Eno, in terms of quirky approaches to the rock idiom. His early albums mix inventive rock music with electronics and progressive ideas making something unique. His use of Zeuhl musicians and stylisms puts him firmly in the post-Magma camp, but his is a much darker, more industrial world; later albums move further into new-wave pop-rock. Originally a visual effects artist, he worked with Gong, Magma, The Who and Klaus Schulze, staging some of the first laser shows at their concerts. He also invented the Laser Harp, a pioneering device to control synthesisers using lasers, as used famously by Jean-Michel Jarre. Bernard continues to work as a high-tech theatrical and event designer, and claims (like Eno) to not be a real musician; his music came secondary as a soundtrack to his laser shows, after yearning to create true multimedia compositions rather than trying to accompany other musicians without proper structure. There's a certain naive innocence in his music, an honest simplicity in the melodies not unlike Haydn or early Gary Numan (another underrated pioneer).
Visions Of Dune
Recorded under the name ZED, 'Dune' opens with mellow synths setting a majestic atmosphere conjured up by Frank Herbert's novel. Strange harmonized vocals herald the start of 'Bashar', into which an awesomely funky drum groove (by ex-Magma drummer Clement Bailly) appears flanked by Bernard's classic Oberheim sequences. Swirling synths cascade around with melodic pulses rising and falling, until it comes to a dead stop. 'Thufir Hawat' is a meandering ARP Odyssey synth solo over a steady sequence. 'Sardaukar' creates a more sinister feeling with edgey, buzzing sounds, until a lovely deep arpeggiated filter-swept bassline rides in. 'Fremen' swirls into view amidst an unashamed analogue meteor shower raining down like slow-motion Syndrums. There's more excellent drumming from Clem, laying down a bizarre groove in 8/4+9/8. 'Harkonnen' starts with some very nasty synths, plus electric guitar (Colin Swinburne) and bass (Hanny Rowe) with restrained drums: anguished and diabolical. 'Adab' returns to juicy analogue sequences and monosynths, falling over each other in phasing patterns. 'Gom Jabbar' is magically mesmeric as rippling filtered sequences shift around the stereo image. 'Ibad' features the already remarkable voice of Klaus Blasquiz, here further processed and vocoded, over dreamy electric piano and electronic percussion. 'Kwizatz Haderach' is a majestically rich tour-de-force of shimmering analogue patterns and textures, with the synthesised voice of Anannka Raghel.
1979 ZED Visions Of Dune [Initial Recording Company IRC003]
1980 Some Deaths Take Forever [Initial Recording Company IRC005]
1981 Superficial Music [Initial Recording Company IRC008]
1983 Brute Reason [Island ILPS9735]
1984 The Big Scare [New Rose NEW34] 12"
Bernard recorded along with Karel Beer (director of IRC, and co-producer of many of his albums) under the name The Prophets, who released two singles and an LP:
1982 Back To The Burner/Back To Siberia [Hypothetical Records ???1] 7"
1982 'Wallenberg' / 'Budapest' [Hypothetical Records]12"
1983 Around The World With The (Hypothetical) Prophets [Epic EPC25116] LP
1999 ZED Visions Of Dune [Spalax]
2000 Some Deaths Take Forever [Spalax]

Check also a semi-official page about Bernard Szajner: http://www.canopus22.demon.co.uk/music/mentors/szajner.html


Anonymous said...

Excellent!, thanks so much for posting this...looking fwd to hearing it...first heard bernard on the "so young but so cold" compilation with the "welcome to deathrow" track....

cheers again!

Anonymous said...

Both the Zed and the "Some Death Takes..." album are amazing. But Mutant Sounds, do you have "Superficial Music"? Well, that is my request for you, "Superficial Music" from 1981.


Anonymous said...

great, thank you very much for sharing!

greets form bulgaria!

Anonymous said...

Carl Craig has cited "Some Deaths Take Forever" as one of his key influences - great to hear the album before it (this one) and the one after it (your post of superficial)
Would really like to hear more of this amazing composer (http://***.szajner.net) has some interesting info for people looking for it.
Also the tracks Person To Person and Wallenberg can be found on the compilation "So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983"

If anyone has the following and could post you'd make my day/month/year...

1983 Brute Reason [Island] LP
1984 The Big Scare [New Rose NEW34] 12"

1983 Around The World With The (Hypothetical) Prophets [Epic] LP

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

I think this is one of the most important lps in electronic music history.
mr. bernard was very ahead of his times and our modern times:
he is a genius
thank you Jim for this treasure.

Anonymous said...

masterpiece! what an amazing trip... (already playlisted in our "Late Night Session" for the Overfitting radio)

Actually I was searching for the Superficial Music LP and "Brute Reason" too BTW.

Thanks anyway for sharing this brilliant album.

Max Falsch said...

Thanxs to all for liking my music so much !!! Its very helpful, nevertheless, even a musician must buy a loaf of bread once in a while and this "music sharing" is certainly not the best way :)
All best to you all...

vdoandsound said...

Bernard-My partner in the blog (Jim) was the one that posted these albums of yours, but if you'd rather that they weren't shared in this fashion, I'd be happy to take down the links. We're both enormous fans of your work and our posts of it were purely to draw more attention to its brilliance...


Literature Review Example said...

I am so happy to see this blog,and I hope, you share more interesting Articale,great work

[uzine] said...

Previously unreleased 1983 material now on Szajner's bandcamp! http://szajner.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-tracks-snark-music